Perhaps the most significant event in the Cretaceous record of the carbon isotope composition of carbonate1,2, other than the 1-2.5‰ negative shift in the carbon isotope composition of calcareous plankton at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary3, is the rapid global positive excursion of ∼2‰ (13C enrichment) which took place between ∼91.5 Myr and 90.3 Myr (late Cenomanian to earliest Turonian (C/T boundary event))1,4,5. This excursion has been attributed to a change in the isotope composition of the marine total dissolved carbon (TDC) reservoir resulting from an increase in rate of burial of 13C-depleted organic carbon, which coincided with a major global rise in sea level5 during the so-called C/T oceanic anoxic event (OAE)6. Here we present new data, from nine localities, which demonstrate that a positive excursion in the carbon isotope composition of organic carbon at or near the C/T boundary7,8 is nearly synchronous with that for carbonate and is widespread throughout the Tethys and Atlantic basins (Fig. 1), as well as in more high-latitude epicontinental seas. The postulated increase in the rate of burial of organic carbon may have had a significant effect on CO2 and O2 concentrations in the oceans and atmosphere, and consequent effects on global climate and sedimentary facies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes